By letting Headley maintain contacts with Lashkar-e- Toiba and other al-Qaeda leaders in Pakistan – as reflected in the court papers submitted by the FBI – federal authorities have said that they hoped to reach the top al-Qaeda leaders. But Headley went rogue and slipped out of their hands.
Those handling Headley's account in the American intelligence agencies said that a decision to arrest him was taken only after he shifted his attention from India to Europe and Headley's Pak handlers started using him for a Mumbai-type attack in European cities.
The information coming from various federal (American) and Indian sources coming out in bits and pieces indicate that at some level intelligence agencies in the US had information about the possible Mumbai attack in 2008 and the key role that he played in this massacre of innocent people by Pakistan-based LeT terrorists.
This is possible because federal officials hoped that once Headley's handlers had full faith in him, they would be able to get access to the top al-Qaeda leaders inside Pakistan.
However, another official said that Headley gradually was brainwashed and was leaking out only selective information to the US and started playing only on behalf of LeT and al-Qaeda leaders who were his contact persons inside Pakistan.
However, federal officials yesterday insisted that they had no inkling of the Mumbai terrorist attack.
"US authorities took seriously what Headley's former wives said," a senior administration official said. "Their information was of a general nature and did not suggest any particular terrorist plot," the official told PTI.
In the past two days – The New York Times and ProPublica, an independent, nonprofit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest – have carried out investigative news report about Headley's contacts with FBI and that the wives of Headley had informed FBI about his terrorists links several years before the Mumbai terrorist attack.